E305/505 Korean Language and Culture

E305 Home | Syllabus | Resources


Make-up of Korean vocabulary

From Sohn (Ch 4):

  1. Korean vocabulary consists of Native Korean words, Sino-Korean words, and loan words, and that a large chunk of Korean vocabulary is Sino-Korean (65%).

    Do you think the percentage of the Sino-Korean words or Chinese character words in Korean language is unusually large for a language to stand on its own? (Cf. English)

    What is the historical background of the heavy influx of Sino-Korean words?

  2. Sohn (Ch 4) discusses three different sources of Sino-Korean words. What are they?

  3. What are the consequences of the heavy influx of Sino-Korean words into Korean language?

  4. The pervasiveness of Sino-Korean words is evident if one looks at the kind of semantic classes where Sino-Korean words dominant. You may be surprised how basic those semantic fields are. What are those?

  5. The proportions of native Korean words, Sino-Korean words, and loan words in Korean language vary depeding on genres or text types. In what genre or text type do you think you will find these three types of vocabulary in Korean language?

    Investigate the case of English or your own language?; that is, how English vocabulary is made of, in what genre or text type you will find more of each type of loan words in English, e.g., Latin, French, Spanish, American Indian languages, etc.?

  6. The influx of Sino-Korean words and loan words into Korean language resulted in many cases of doublets or tripletes similar in meaning. What is the general pattern of the relation between the two words in doublet or among the three words in triplets?

  7. The use of Sino-Korean vocabulary (hanja-ô) in Korean is huge, but the actual use of hanja, the Chinese characters, has become diminished by the government language policy. See the diverse ways of utilizing hanja.

  8. Empowering vocabulary:


    Sino-Korean words coined in Korean:

    Il-gi (day-energy) weather         cf. Ѩ(Japanese), Ѩ (Chinese)

    P’yôn-ji (comfortable-paper) letter cf. (Japanese), (Chinese)

    Sik-ku Ϣ (eating-mouth) ‘family member’ cf. ʫ(Japanese), ʫϢ (Chinese)

    Ch’ong-gak (all-horn) ‘bachelor’ cf. ڱ (Japanese), ? (Chinese)



    Semanticizing syllables

    Han’gûl < Han (Great/Korean)+ gûl (writing)


    Pi-bôn < pimil (secret) pônho (number) ‘pass word’

    Nam-ch’in < namca (male)-ch’ingu (friend) ‘boyfriend’

    Yô-ch’in ҳ < nca (female)- ch’ingu (friend) ‘girlfriend’


    Ôm-ch’in-a < ômma (mom) ch’ingu (friend) adûl (son) ‘mother’s friend’s son’

    Ôl-ccang < ôlgul (face)-i ccang (top)-i-n saram (person) ‘a best looking person’

    Mom-ccang <mom (body)-i ccang (top)-i-n saram (person) ‘a person with nice body’

    Cûl-gam < cûlkôp-ke (joyfully) kamsang (appreciation) ‘Enjoy it’

    Hun-nam hun-nyô

    < hunhunha (warm-hearted)-n namja  (man) hunhunha-n ja (woman) ‘well-likable man and woman’

    saeng-ôl < saeng (live, natural) ôlgul (face) ‘a face with no makeup’


    li-p’ul < reply

    pe-p’u < best friend

    ppo-shap < Photoshop ‘a retouched photo’

    p’e-buk < FaceBook

    sel-k’a <self camera ‘a self-photographed’


    ak-p’ul < ak (evil, vicious)+ (re-)ply

    p’e-ch’in < Facebook+ch’ingu  ‘Facebook Friend’

    nun-t'ing < nun 'eye'+meeting



From Ramsey (Ch 5):

  1. Describe the changes in the direction of the flow of culture and language between Korean and Japanese.

    What are the historical turning points that cause the changes?

  2. What is the nature of Japanese influence on Korean language before and after the end of the WWII in 1945?

    What is the current climate of Korean people dealing with the remnant of Japanese influence on Korean language?